CJN Lambasts Politicians on Attempt to Bribe Judges Over Abia Guber Tussle

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, has warned politicians not to destroy the judiciary.
Justice Onnoghen, who took a swipe at politicians, during judgment in Abia governorship tussle between Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Sampson Ogah, warned politicians not to destroy the judiciary, which he described as the last hope of the ordinary Nigerian.
The CJN told the open court after the judgment that desperate politicians invaded the court prior to the judgment, Friday, with the aim of compromising court officials and pervert the course of justice for their selfish ends.
The CJN said that there were several security breaches where desperate politicians made frantic efforts to compromise the court officials in the course of sitting on the matter.
Justice Onnoghen said that the security breaches were serious offences and that they will be thoroughly investigated to unmasked the politicians and make them face the wrath of the law.
“I have said times without number that under my leadership you do not need to know a judge before you can get justice. The law is superior and the law must take its course”
“Attempt to bribe court officials to know who is writing judgment and to know who and who are in the panel is a serious offence and after investigation anybody indicted would be made to face severe punishment.
“I do not just understand why politicians are resorting to blackmailing the judiciary. They should realise that the executive and the legislature belong to them, they should leave out the judiciary in their political manoeuvring. They should allow the judiciary to be independent because without an independent judiciary, there will not be a just society”, he said.
The CJN therefore appealed to the politicians to allow the judiciary do its job.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the election of Governor Ikpeazu of Abia State on the grounds that he was properly nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Delivering judgment in three separate suits challenging the eligibility of Ikpeazu in the 2015 governorship election by Ogah and Friday Nwosu, the apex court dismissed the suits, stressing they lacked merit.
In the lead judgment written by Justice Musa Datijo Mohamed and read by Justice Ejembi Eko, the court, held that the appellant failed to prove his allegation that the tax clearance of the Governor presented for nomination was forged.
According to the judgement, taxes of civil servants are normally deducted from source and being an employee of the state government at the time, Ikpeazu’s tax was deducted at source, adding that if there are irregularities it is not the Governor that should be held responsible.
The apex court in declaring that the appeals before it lacked substance described them as a mere storm in a tea’s cup and consequently awarded a cost of N250,000 in favour of Ikpeazu and the PDP.
Leading the panel of Justices in the judgment,
Recall that the legal battle to unseat Governor Ikpeazu started after the judgment of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which, last year upturned the judgment by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja which sacked Governor Ikpeazu from office.
The appellate court, in the unanimous judgment vacated the June 27, 2016 judgment of Justice Abang and held that the he erred in law and that the judgement occasioned a miscarriage of justice against Ikpeazu.
Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, who delivered the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that Justice Abang “committed a grave violence against one of the pillars of Justice” relating to fair hearing, adding that Abang placed the law on its head when it directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue fresh Certificate of Return to Ogah.
While upholding Ikpeazu’s appeal, the court awarded N100,000 cost against Ogah and resolved all the five issues raised in the appeal in favour of Ikpeazu.
Justice Abang had in his judgment sacked Ikpeazu for allegedly disclosing false information in relation to his tax clearance details to INEC in his form nominating him as the candidate of the PDP for the 2015 governorship election in the state.
The judge, also in the said judgment, ordered the governor’s rival, Ogah, who was the first runner-up in the primary that produced Ikpeazu as the candidate of the PDP to takeover, adding, Ikpeazu was not qualified to be PDP’s candidate having disclosed false information to INEC in violation of his party’s Article 14(a) of the PDP Electoral Guidelines and Section 31 of the Electoral Act.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Governor Ikpeazu approached the Court of Appeal, praying it to set aside Justice Abang’s judgment which sacked him from the Abia State Government House.
But the judgment of the Supreme Court, Friday, affirmed the election of Governor Ikpeazu, saying that he was validly nominated by the PDP to fly the party’s flag in the election.
Responding to the judgment, Ikpeazu said he dedicated his victory over Uche Ogah at the Supreme Court to the people of Abia state, who he said stood by him all through the period of litigations.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, Governor Ikpeazu stated that the victory is a re-affirmation of the mandate given to him by the people, and now twice confirmed by the Supreme Court.
He stressed that only God will take glory for the victory, and commended the judiciary for standing firm on the side of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Governor Ikpeazu wishes to call on all Abians to join hands with him to ensure accelerated growth and development of the state.
According to him: “The time for politics is long over, and I have forgiven all those that were bent on distracting me. Let all well meaning Abians, including my opponents, come and join us to grow and develop our state without distractions as we ultimately have stakes in the growth and development of our state and people.
“Today, there is the work of Abia to do and history will judge us by how much of that work we do, not by how much politics we play. My doors are open to all, my ears are open to hear and my eyes are strong enough to read suggestions on how we can best deliver greater dividends to those who really matter: the great people of Abia State.”

Author: News Editor

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